That same year, in little league, I clobbered a catcher who was blocking home plate. Scott was watching the game and told me afterwards that I would never have been able to do that to him. Later that season, my team was playing Scott's, as I was rounding third I looked at home plate and Scott (their catcher) catches the ball and turns to me grinning. I wasn't even half way to home when I decided to go for it. I ran at full speed staring at Scott the whole way. As I closed on him I lowered my shoulder and hit his glove and drove it into his chest with everything I had. I laid him out flat as I touched home plate. Then I heard it, "SAFE!" I had knocked the ball out of Scott's glove and laid him out so bad that the guy who hit the ball scored. After the game Scott told me that wouldn't happen again. I asked him if he was giving up catching. He said no. I finally had gotten the best of Scott Troyer not once but twice. It felt awesome!
Then it happened!
The next time we played he didn't catch, he pitched! He struck me out every time that game. As a
matter of fact, I never got a hit off of him and I had to face him for three more years! He had this wicked unhitable curveball. He would throw it at my head and as I was ducking (falling) out of the batters box and then I would hear "Steeeerike One, Two, Three! You're out!" It became so familiar that I would hear it in my sleep the nights before and after the games in which I played him. Then I would go mumbling back to my dugout, embarrassed, cursing him under my breath. Those of you who know something about baseball are probably saying, "Why didn't he just move forward in the batters box so that the curveball would hit him?" I did! So then he would unleash a blistering fastball that would brush me back. For me, at least, he was unhittable and the reason I quit playing baseball. Funny thing is a few other people quit playing for the same reason.
Scott and I ended up at the same junior high and high school together and became good friends. We were football teammates our sophomore year. He was our field-goal kicker and a starting wide receiver. He was very good at it too. I remember one game, when we were playing a rival high
school, he caught a beautiful long pass while being double covered. He gets up, says something to the two guys and one of them punches him in the face mask. I'm proud to say that I was one of the first off the bench to clobber those guys. The game was ended in a huge melee and Scott was in the middle of it. We laughed all through high school about that day! He didn't play anymore after that year though . If he had we probably would have at least played in the CIF championship game if not won it! One thing was for sure, I enjoyed playing so much more when he was on my team.
After high school, like most people, I lost touch with Scott. That was until this spring when he sent me a friend request on FB. I responded with the question "Do you still have that wicked curveball?" His response was "No, just hanging curveballs now!" I responded, "I still wouldn't be able to hit it!" He quickly learned that I was terminally ill and he sent me a few messages telling me to keep fighting, along with "likes" on multiple occasions.
It pains me to say, that Scott was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer in September of this year. When our friend Mike told me my heart sank. Mike was going to visit him in the hospital so I asked him to ask Scott if it would be okay if I called him. Scott told Mike yes but he asked that I text beforehand. Scott's condition declined rapidly and Mike told me he wouldn't be up for a phone call. He meant so much to me that I had to communicate with him. I sent him a special note the other day that his wife, Susan, read to him. She sent me a note back telling me that he was too weak to read it himself so she read it to him. He was also too weak to speak but she said that he nodded "Yes!" I am so thankful that she gave me this gift.
If life is a race then he won this one too. Unfortunately, we all lost when Scott Troyer passed on.
It is very selfish of me to say this but I hope no one else I know passes on before I do. I don't think I can take any more of this pain.
As another classmate, Robin, said upon hearing of his death, "Every day is a gift!"
We all need to live like that!